Saturday at Starbucks
Patricia L. Hamilton

Saturday at Starbucks

On this April morning warm enough to pry open
the last buds clenched tight against a late frost,
you can almost imagine we’re slipping backward
on the timeline, Ella Fitzgerald crooning
“Begin the Beguine” as people breeze in and out,
nostalgic for the bounty of picnic hampers,
the easy banter of tennis balls.

Regulars beguiled by the aroma of espresso
line up at the register, travel mugs ready,
preparing for age-old rites of spring—
mowing expeditions through jungle-lush
weed-growth in search of lost lawns,
the jubilant exodus of patio furniture
from dusky recesses in the garage.

Each tree shimmering in the parking lot
hums its new-leafed joy, harmonizing with
the chatter of young mothers sipping chai,
the murmur of couples sitting in the sunlight
savoring the delights of frothy white foam,
the soothing patter of the baristas,
the contented susurration of steam.

Though we’re transitory as the whorl of pollen
gilding the sidewalk, together we resonate
like an ancient chord with the power
to conjure that old specter, Babel,
and set it swaying, twisting, shaking,
until at last it shivers into rubble,
leaving us all speaking the same language.

Patricia L. Hamilton

is a professor of English at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Her first volume of poetry, The Distance to Nightfall, was published in 2014 by Main Street Rag Press. Her most recent work has appeared in Broad River Review, Third Wednesday, Red River Review, and Plainsongs. She won the 2015 Rash Award for Poetry and has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize.